Diversity & Discrimination

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  • NRA Spins Primary Results With False Claim Clinton’s Support For Gun Safety Laws Is Hurting Her Campaign

    NRA News On CT Primary: “Hillary Clinton Did Not Win Newtown, Donald Trump Won Newtown”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm offered a faulty and misleading analysis of Connecticut’s presidential primary results to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s support for stronger gun safety laws is a detriment to her campaign, while arguing that she somehow lost the primary to Donald Trump.

    During the April 27 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attacked a Huffington Post article headlined “Hillary Clinton Wins Newtown, After Making Gun Control Central To Her Campaign.”

    Newtown was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which claimed 26 lives.

    Clinton won a seven point victory over Bernie Sanders in Newtown, beating her overall state victory margin of five points during Connecticut’s April 26 primary.

    Edwards attacked the notion that Clinton’s focus on gun safety and subsequent win was “significant” by fallaciously arguing that “Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” because Trump received more total votes in the primary:

    EDWARDS: On the Republican side, in Newtown, Connecticut, Hillary Clinton didn’t beat Donald Trump in terms of the vote numbers. … So in terms of all of the candidates that residents and voters in Newtown could vote for, no, Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown. I don't think you’re going to see that headline at Huffington Post. ... So if Hillary Clinton's win in Newtown in the Democratic primary is significant, well then what is the significance of (a) a Republican candidate actually getting the most votes of all of the candidates on the ballot there in Newtown, (b) one who has expressed support for the right to keep and bear arms. What's the significance there ya think?

    Trump received 1,654 votes in the Republican primary in Newtown while Clinton received 1,362 votes in the Democratic primary.

    Edwards also said, “It's worth noting that statewide, Hillary Clinton actually did get more votes than Donald Trump, she got about 50,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but not in Newtown, Connecticut. ... I just think it's worth pondering what the significance of the fact that Hillary Clinton did not actually get the most votes in Newtown might be.”

    Edwards’ comparison between vote totals for Clinton and Trump is nonsensical. By definition, primaries are not contests between candidates of different parties -- and Connecticut has a closed primary system meaning voters can only vote for candidates of their registered party.

    Edwards claim that “Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” also doesn’t make sense when voter trends in Connecticut are analyzed:

    • For a variety of factors, far more Republicans have voted in 2016 primaries compared to Democrats.
    • Newtown has more active registered Republicans (5126) than active registered Democrats (4358). Mitt Romney easily won Newtown in the 2012 presidential election.
    • Even so, Democratic turnout was higher (58%) compared to Republican turnout (56%) in Newtown.
    • Edwards argued it was significant that Trump received more votes than Clinton in Newtown, even though Clinton “got about 50,000 more votes” than Trump statewide. But in Newtown there are 768 more active registered Republicans than Democrats, while statewide there are 303,635 more registered active Democrats compared to active registered Republicans.
  • After Claiming Carly Fiorina Went “Full Vagina,” Radio Host Steve Deace Touts Her For Ted Cruz VP

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Influential radio host and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) media surrogate Steve Deace praised Ted Cruz's decision to select former GOP candidate Carly Fiorina as his running-mate, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party." Deace’s endorsement is a sharp departure from his sexist rhetoric about Fiorina which received heavy criticism from the media and from Fiorina herself.

    Appearing at a rally in Indianapolis on April 27, Republican candidate Ted Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running-mate. In a series of tweets after the announcement, Deace lauded Cruz's vice presidential selection, claiming Fiorina "might be the best messenger for the party," and stating "Her presence is a living, daily reminder of Trump's struggles with women."

    Deace has previously appeared as part of Cruz's Iowa leadership team, in promotional videos for Cruz's campaign, and has been described by the Des Moines Register as having "served as an informal, unpaid consultant" to Cruz.

    Deace’s most recent comments are at odds with his prior sexist attacks on Fiorina, including a tweet stating "Fiorina goes full vagina right away" in her opening statement during the December 2015 Republican debate.

    Deace initially defended his criticism of Fiorina, tweeting "I think a GOP presidential candidate's opening statement being all about her gender is disgusting." Deace subsequently apologized for the remarks, claiming his wife told him he had been "too vulgar and need[ed] to apologize."

    Deace received widespread condemnation following his remarks including criticism from Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Fiorina during a December 16 interview on Fox News' The Kelly File. Fiorina rebuked Deace's sexist attacks and position as a prominent campaign surrogate for Ted Cruz, stating "I told my story, just like every other candidate has told their story, [...] it's inexplicable to me why this major surrogate of Ted Cruz thought that was playing the 'V' card." Fiorina continued, saying Deace "is more than a radio show talk host. He is a major surrogate for Ted Cruz and a major endorser, and this is why Ted Cruz cannot possibly beat Hillary Clinton."

  • Media Point To Data To Show "It's Simply Not True" That Latinos Like Trump

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Media are debunking Trump’s claim that he’s “’number one with Hispanics,’” highlighting polls that show his high unfavorables among Latinos, and research that shows increasing naturalization rates among foreign-born Hispanics may be tied to Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. As one of the most influential Hispanic journalists Jorge Ramos pointed out, Trump’s lack of support from the Latino electorate might make the candidate's path to the White House impossible.

  • Trump’s “Women’s Card” Attack Against Hillary Clinton Comes From Right-Wing Media’s Playbook

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    After Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump swept five states in the April 26 primary​ elections, he attacked Democratic presidential front-​runner Hillary Clinton for playing the “women’s card” and suggested she wouldn’t be winning if she “were a man.” Trump’s attack follows right-wing media's long history of criticizing Clinton’s “gender card.”    

  • Here’s What To Avoid When Reporting On Student Debt

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    April 25 marked the fourth anniversary of outstanding student loan debt topping $1 trillion in the United States, yet media still aren’t always telling the full story on college affordability and student debt. If the public thinks the student debt crisis only affects white, upper middle class borrowers enrolled in impractical programs at four-year colleges and universities, the media aren't​ doing their​ jobs.​

    It’s time for media to recognize the realities of the nation’s student debt burden. Outlets should stop ignoring the voices of students and borrowers, and stop reinforcing unrealistic assumptions about how​ higher education can be paid for ​today. Here are some of the reporting tactics they ought to leave behind.

    Framing Student Debt In The Narrow Context Of Traditional, Four-Year Colleges And Universities

    Media often focus their reporting on six-figure student debt balances from prestigious and expensive four-year colleges and universities. But focusing on the experience of this narrow segment of student borrowers ignores those who are most deeply affected by student loan debt: students who take loans to pursue higher education but are unable to complete their programs, and students borrowing to attend non-traditional or for-profit programs with fewer federal grant and loan options.

    As the Center for American Progress’ (CAP) Ben Miller explained in June, “the link between debt and educational attainment is too frequently missing from national discussions on student loans.” Miller’s study found that a recent graduate with a higher debt burden was financially better off than a non-graduate who owed a smaller amount, because the graduate was more able to boost their income and pay off their balance​, resulting in fewer defaults for graduates​.

    A comprehensive report from the Brookings Institution in September highlighted the outsized student debt burden of another non-traditional group of borrowers: those who attended for-profit schools. The report concluded that “most of the increase in default [on federal student loans] is associated with the rise in the number of borrowers at for-profit schools and, to a lesser extent, 2-year institutions and certain other non-selective institutions, whose students historically composed only a small share of borrowers.” The report also demonstrated that “These non-traditional borrowers were drawn from lower income families, attended institutions with relatively weak educational outcomes, and experienced​ poor labor market outcomes after leaving school.”

    It’s clear that four-year college graduates are not the majority of borrowers in default or struggling to make payments, and it should be just as clear in media coverage of the issue.

    Ignoring How Student Loan Debt Perpetuates Economic Inequality For Women, Black, And Hispanic Borrowers

    Reporting on the nation's student debt crisis without acknowledging how the debt burden disproportionately affects women and people of color is irresponsible, and it leaves out important details about how student loan debt ripples across the economy.

    Here are the facts: women are more likely to have outstanding student loan debt, and dedicate a higher percentage of their earnings ​toward paying off that debt. The gender pay gap also makes getting out of debt all the more difficult for women, in particular for black and Hispanic women. In February, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that “more women than men… are contributing more money to their student debt payments than a typical individual can reasonably afford,” and ​are ​still making a less significant dent in their outstanding loan balances. “The gap in student loan repayment is even larger for black and Hispanic women with college degrees,” the report noted.

    Black and Hispanic borrowers generally have more debt than their peers, regardless of the type of degree they pursued or the type of institution they attend. In fact, black and Hispanic students are far more likely to enroll in cheaper two-year, open-access schools, but also often have access to fewer family resources than white students and therefore must rely on student loans in greater numbers. Black and Hispanic graduates are also afforded less financial security from having a college degree.

    The nation's student debt burden feeds off of, and perpetuates, existing economic inequality. Media that ignore this phenomenon are ignoring the experiences of the majority of student loan borrowers, and are obscuring the true costs of the national student loan debt burden.

    Using Outdated Economics To Suggest Student Debt Is Avoidable With Part-Time Work And Better Decision Making

    Right-wing media figures, in particular, frequently pair discussions of student debt and college affordability with outdated anecdotes to suggest borrowers struggling to pay off student loan debt could have simply worked harder or made smarter decisions to avoid incurring debt. Here’s the reality: A​ny media figure who suggests students or recent graduates could have avoided taking out student loans not only ignores that many students do not have the resources to find alternatives, but relies on completely outdated assumptions about how much college costs in the first place.

    The fact is that college costs are rising across the board, for all types of higher education. Non-traditional programs often end up being more expensive for students, and some for-profit programs in particular, underserve students and leave them more likely to default on loans. Finding “a cheaper school” is not a real option, and making a living wage without a college degree is increasingly not an option either.

    Economists agree that higher education credentials, and in particular a bachelor’s degree, continue to have outsized positive economic benefits and are an undoubtedly “sound investment.” So pundits citing cheaper, alternative higher education programs are, at best, blindly promoting the nonexistent and, at worst, knowingly perpetuating a two-tier system of higher education where low-income students ought not to pursue the types of degrees proven to be most beneficial.

    And those anecdotes about how conservative media figures were able to pay for college with some elbow grease and a part-time job? Researchers have repeatedly found that’s just not possible anymore. An October study from Georgetown University found that while “over the last 25 years, more than 70 percent of college students have been working while enrolled,” it’s just not enough to offset the costs of school or avoid loans. “A student working full-time at the federal minimum wage would earn $15,080 annually before taxes,” the report concluded. “That isn’t enough to pay tuition at most colleges, much less room and board and other expenses.”

    Painting All College Affordability And Student Debt Policy Solutions As Equally Comprehensive

    Media coverage of student loan and college affordability policies in the 2016 presidential election is inaccurate if it attempts to frame policy solutions from both parties as equally comprehensive. Both Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ​have released comprehensive policy plans designed to bring down college costs for new students and to ease the burden of student loan debt for borrowers and recent graduates. Both plans have price tags and​ detail concrete actions on the issue. Regardless of where voters stand substantively, it is undeniable that both plans exist and are comprehensive.

    On the other hand, none of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates have released policy proposals on higher education affordability or college debt ​--​ in fact, front-​runner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have not even dedicated website space to the issue. Gov. John Kasich (OH) includes a paragraph on college costs in his larger education platform​​, but doesn't explain what policies he'd pursue on a national scale. ​

    Recognizing that student debt is a major concern for young voters with vague public statements is not the same as offering concrete policy solutions that might help alleviate the problem. Reporting that frames policy proposals from all of the presidential candidates as equally comprehensive or equally viable in order to appear balanced is just misleading the public.

  • Major News Outlets Fail To Identify The Hate Group Boycotting Target

    The American Family Association Has Been Designated An Anti-LGBT “Hate Group” By The SPLC

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Major news outlets have largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as a "Christian" or "conservative" organization.

  • Birtherism: Trump’s Original Sin And The Media’s Latest One

    Blog ››› ››› JAMES CARVILLE

    Next time you watch the news, do me a favor. Take a look at the reporters’ arms. Do they seem tired to you? Overworked? They have to be a little sore at least. Such is the vigor with which the media have been patting themselves on the back lately.

    After a full year of the Trump steamroller -- in which a honey-baked ham with authoritarian inclinations has managed to blow past any serious questioning of his policies or candidacy -- the media apparently feel that they’re now doing their jobs.

    You could see it a few weeks back in the breathless praise for MSNBC's Chris Matthews when he interrogated Trump on abortion; or in the hype around the New York Times interview that nailed down Trump’s Strangelovian approach to nuclear weapons; or even in Trump’s recent pivot toward a more “presidential” tone. Among reporters and critics that I know, there’s a growing sentiment that Trump is changing his ways because they, the press, are taking him seriously now. They’re handling Trump not based on the job he has (obnoxious reality star) but on the job he wants (president or, perhaps, generalissimo).

    Call me crazy, but I’m not totally buying this notion. I think it’s a crock. The media haven’t “done their job” with regard to Trump, and the reason why is very simple: The press have largely ignored the issue that made him a political phenomenon in the first place.

    The media have overlooked Trump’s birtherism.

    I’m a Catholic. I’ve seen enough baptismal water spilled to fill William Taft’s bathtub ten times over. But it doesn’t take a Catholic like me to understand the original sin of the Trump candidacy. His first act on the political stage was to declare himself the head of the birther movement. For Trump, the year 2011 began with the BIG NEWS that he had rejected Lindsay Lohan for Celebrity Apprentice, but by April, his one-man show to paint Barack Obama as a secret Kenyan had become the talk of the country. Five years later, Trump is nearing the Republican nomination for president.

    In many ways, birtherism is the thing that launched Trump's campaign. But as he nears the big prize in Cleveland, Trump has refused disavow his conspiracy theory. In July, when Anderson Cooper pressed Trump on whether President Obama was, in fact, born in the United States, Trump’s response was, “I really don’t know.”

    I’m taxing my mind to find a historical comparison here, to put this in context. I suppose Trump’s birtherism is the intellectual equivalent of the flat-earth theory; both are fully contradicted by the evidence. But then again, there is a difference between the two, and the difference is this: If a presidential candidate insisted that the USS Theodore Roosevelt would fall off the edge of the map after sailing past Catalina, Wolf Blitzer would probably ask him about it.  

    It’s been nine months since Cooper pressed Trump on the issue of whether he thinks the president is an American -- almost enough time, as Trump might put it, to carry a baby to term in Kenya and secretly transport him to Hawaii -- and still, no one has gotten an answer. In fact, most have stopped asking. It’s now known among reporters that Obama’s birthplace is a strictly verboten topic for Trump. If you bring up the subject, as Chris Matthews did in December, Trump looks at you with a glare I assume he otherwise reserves for undocumented immigrants and say, “I don’t talk about that anymore.”

    Since July, there have been 12 debates, six televised forums, and enough cable interviews to combust a DVR, but the only “birther” issue extensively covered in the press has involved whether Sen. Ted Cruz was born in Calgary Flames territory. Most reporters don't seem to want to piss off the The Donald and risk losing their access.

    Look, I understand that there’s plenty of craziness to investigate in our politics. Cruz believes that global warming is a hoax. Ben Carson claimed that the Biblical Joseph built the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Heck, once upon a time, George W. Bush famously thought the jury was out on evolution.

    But Trump’s birtherism is far, far more important -- for two reasons:

    First, in my experience, when a politician says he doesn’t talk about an issue, that’s precisely the issue you should ask him about.

    Second, there’s another difference between being birther and flat-earther. It’s possible to believe the Earth is flat and not be a bigot, but it’s impossible to be a birther and not be one.

    It’s no surprise Trump’s campaign has been a parade of racism after his foray into birtherism -- a border wall, a ban on Muslim immigration, and the failure to denounce the Ku Klux Klan. Unlike Bush’s creationism and Carson’s historical idiocy, Trump’s birtherism can’t be written off as a minor policy quirk. It’s less of a bug than a feature. Trump, by his own admission, sees the controversy over Obama’s birthplace as foundational to his brand and instructive to how he approaches politics. When ABC asked him about his aggressive birtherism in 2013, he said, "I don't think I went overboard. Actually, I think it made me very popular... I do think I know what I'm doing.”

    I think it made me very popular… I do think I know what I’m doing.

    With birtherism, Trump discovered a sad truth about modern American media: Bigotry gets you attention. And long as you bring viewers, readers, and clicks, the fourth estate will let you get away with that bigotry.

    * * *

    Long before Donald Trump, there was another demagogue, Huey Long, who made a run for the White House. Long was fictionalized and immortalized as the character Willie Stark in Robert Penn Warren’s novel, All The King’s Men, in which Warren wrote, “Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption.”

    So, too, was Trump’s political career.

    The press should get their hands off their backs and ask him about it.